Behavioral health correlates of exposure to community violence among African-American adolescents in Chicago

Dexter R. Voisin, Sadiq Patel, Jun Sung Hong, Lois Takahashi, Noni Gaylord-Harden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aims Though public health researchers are more aware of behavioral health concerns among African American youth, few studies have explored how exposure to community violence may be related to adverse youth concerns. This study examines the relationship between exposure to community violence and mental health problems, substance use, school engagement, juvenile justice involvement, and STI risk behaviors. Methods A total of 638 African American adolescents living in predominantly low-income, urban communities participated in the study by completing self-report measures on exposure to community violence, mental health, school engagement proxies, substance use, delinquency markers and sexual risk behaviors. Results Adolescents who reported higher rates of exposure to community violence were significantly more likely to report poorer mental health, delinquent behaviors, a history of juvenile justice involvement, lower school bonding and student-teacher connectedness. These youth were also significantly more likely to use alcohol, cigarettes, and illicit substances, and engage in sexual risk behaviors. Conclusions Findings suggest that there is a critical need for culturally relevant prevention and intervention efforts for African American adolescents who are frequently exposed to community violence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-105
Number of pages9
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Volume69
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016

Keywords

  • Delinquency
  • Exposure to community violence
  • Mental health
  • School engagement
  • Sexual behaviors
  • Substance use

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